Mold on potting soil is harmful - Tips to prevent mold on potting soil

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White horse in flowerpot

Mold on potting soil is not uncommon. Yesterday the earth was still clean, today it is covered by the light fluff - a rather ugly appearance. The following article deals first with where the mold on potting soil comes from. In addition, the question should be clarified, whether the mold is harmless or at least represents a source of danger. How can a hobby gardener effectively prevent the formation of mold? What to do when the mold has already spread and become a stubborn plague?

Where is this mold coming from?

This has probably already happened to every hobby gardener: Only yesterday the flower pot was a feast for the eyes and today it molds on the surface. A field of fine gray-white fluff has apparently formed out of nothing and is spreading. Mold is actually omnipresent because its microscopic spores are at the roots, in the substrate, i. in the potting soil itself, and even in the air. If the mold finds favorable conditions for its growth, it spreads quickly and can even become a plague.

Symptom of care errors

Favorable conditions for the outbreak of mold plague lie v.a. then, if the plant is over-poured. This can happen quite quickly: forget that yesterday was already poured and quickly poured a portion of water into the pot. It is not uncommon to try to "keep in stock" before the holiday, so that the houseplant literally floats in the water. Even in economically heated rooms and with strong temperature fluctuations, the mold thrives. Another reason for the spread of mold is in the too dense substrate. When air circulation is severely limited, the mold feels comfortable, but the plant does not.

Mold as a source of danger?

Moldy earth looks rather unappetizing, but it raises the question of whether mold is also dangerous or just a visual shortcoming. Unfortunately, it has to be stated that mold is not harmless at all. First, the infestation itself already indicates that the plant is not properly cared for and feels uncomfortable. On the other hand, mold quickly becomes the dangerous and rather successful competitor of the plant "in the fight" for the nutrients.
Thus, the houseplant receives less and less food, but the mold continues to spread. What's more, the mold infestation is not dangerous for humans. Especially people with chronic or acute respiratory diseases are at risk. When the immune system is affected by a pre-disease or e.g. Chemotherapy is weakened, threatens u.a. a so-called Aspergillus pneumonia. Sinusitis, but also kidney or circulatory problems can be caused by mildew. Allergy sufferers form another group for whom mold could be dangerous.

Fight mold successfully

Mold in potting soil

When mold has spread on the surface of the potting soil, the time has come to act. Preferably immediately, because by itself this plague does not disappear. The method is radical and simple: repot into the new substrate.
The procedure is as follows:
  • Prepare working surface: in the garden, on the terrace or balcony spread a protective foil or newspaper, hold a flower pot with the plant, a new pot, fresh substrate and garden shovel,

  • Carefully pull the plant out of the pot, remove the roots as completely as possible from the soil, if necessary also under a stream of water (use lukewarm water!),

  • Fill 1/4 to 1/3 of the pot volume with the fresh substrate, then place the plant and carefully fill the pot with the potting soil. Leave a distance of 3-5 cm to the upper edge, never fill the pot to the brim!

Tip: Also, the old pot can be used again, if not too small. However, this must be thoroughly cleaned with hot water (of course without any detergents).
The old substrate should be disposed of, preferably on the compost pile or as residual waste.

Prevent the infestation successfully - four tips

Potting potting soil yourself

The commercially available potting soil contains i.a. a large proportion of peat, which forms a perfect breeding ground for the mold culture. In addition, not every plant needs a lot of peat to feel good. Most of all, the mixture is tailor-made to suit the plant.
Tip: Kokoshumus is a recommended ingredient because it has fungicidal properties. Substrate with a high proportion of sand also tends to mold less than the conventional potting soil.

Loosen the substrate regularly.

As mentioned above, a too dense substrate favors the growth of mold, so it is worthwhile to "dig up" the surface of the potting soil from time to time (e.g., once a week).
Tip: For this measure no expensive gardening equipment ago, it is usually sufficient a simple kitchen fork. Especially handy with small pots!

Pour less.

It is often easier said than done, because water shortage is more of an unknown problem in Europe. But the generosity of the hobby gardener hurts the plant enormously. It is often noticed too late that the plant "drowns". When the roots die off, it can be too late for any help. Therefore, preventing mold attack also means saving plants. Pouring through the coaster helps to maintain the correct level, but it is important that it does not form a "stagnant water" in the coaster. Water that has not taken in the plant after about an hour, belongs to. For people who travel often, it is advisable to purchase an irrigation system.

Select the appropriate location.

Mold loves it moist, shady, but not necessarily warm. Most plants like it sunny to partially shaded, are heat-loving and tolerate more dryness, as he is dear to the mold. Therefore, if possible, choose a location that is optimal for the plant but does not like the mold.

White horse on potting soil

Frequently asked questions about mold

Must be repotted when mold infestation?
Repotting promises the most success. Reducing the amount of water and loosening the substrate can help. If the mold does not disappear after about a week, repotting is required.
Which home remedies prevent mold?
Grated activated carbon tablet kills spores, the same effect has cinnamon powder. Put on the substrate, pour on, do not stir. Even tea tree oil can act as a fungicide in a weak concentration.

Video Board: White Mold on top of soil on houseplants and is it Harmful ?.

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